December 11-12, 2021
This year’s edition of San Diego Comic-Con provided some of the best trailers in recent history, finally breaking the ice about the most anticipated upcoming films and television series. But with so many of these trailers hitting our newsfeeds within hours of each other, some were harder to digest than others.
Warner Bros’ two-hour DC presentation proved to be one of the biggest reveals of 2018, bringing work-in-progress footage from the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 film, and two shiny trailers for this year’s Aquaman. But the DC Universe appears to be getting brighter as the spotlight shone on someone completely new this time around.
Billy Batson, a streetwise 14-year-old foster kid, suddenly becomes host to an array of superpowers, turning into an adult superhero at the shout of a single word, Shazam. Still a child at heart, Billy’s coming of age tests his abilities when confronted with the deadly forces of evil controlled by Doctor Thaddeus Sivana.
Shazam! is a visual spectacle that looks to be a turning point for the DC Universe, which has suffered criticism in the past for being too dark and gritty. Starring Zachary Levi in the titular role with Asher Angel as his younger counterpart, the film combines a witty sense of humour with an establishment of a larger character database.
With the teaser trailer standing at almost three minutes long, it manages to incorporate numerous blink and you’ll miss it Easter eggs and references to past and future DC films. Here is everything you may have missed:
If you hadn’t already noticed, the story portrayed through the trailer draws very close similarities to Geoff Johns’ New 52 version of the character. The comic-accurate representation shows the origin of Billy Batson, unlike BvS: Dawn Of Justice, which was a mash-up of different storylines.
When Billy encounters The Wizard in the subway, he stands in front of seven empty chairs. This reference points towards The Council of Eternity, which once consisted of seven magic users from powerful cultures. The Council was almost completely destroyed by their own power-mad creation, Black Adam. It’s when Black Adam returns that The Wizard needs to find a new champion he can give his powers to, and that’s where Billy comes in.
“YOU’RE LIKE A BAD GUY, RIGHT?”
The film’s villain, Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, possesses the powers of super strength and seeing magic through one eye (an ability he gained upon discovering Black Adam’s tomb). Two references to Black Adam is not enough to confirm the character’s appearance in the film, though it has been rumoured that Dwayne Johnson has been cast in the role. With Mark Strong portraying Sivana, there is no doubt he will bring a touch of dark magic to the role.
Billy Batson’s foster brother Freddy Freeman (played by IT breakout star Jack Dylan Grazer) appears to be a superhero enthusiast in his own right, though the comics suggest he has a powerful future of his own. Upon meeting each other for the first time, Freddy is wearing an Aquaman t-shirt while a toy Superman sits on his shelf, indicating the strong impact the Justice League has had on the modern world.
Showing him around the room, Freddy also reveals a replica batarang, a drawer full of newspapers clippings including ones from The Daily Planet, and a deflected bullet. Later in the trailer, we see Freddy sporting a Wonder Woman t-shirt. Shazam may not yet be part of the wider DC universe, but these small references suggest it is only a matter of time.
Freddy Freeman will play a pivotal role in Billy Batson’s transition from boy to man. After possessing the powers from The Wizard, Billy states that he is “… not too good with this caped crusader stuff”, as a subtle nod to the traditional Batman comics. Additionally, Billy also says he doesn’t even know how to pee in the suit, as most superheroes with complex suits have been met with the same question in the past.
The lighter approach to this film could only work for Shazam, as his childish take on life wouldn’t have been appreciated earlier in the timeline. A very obvious reference looks to Tom Hanks’ Big, a story about a boy who suddenly becomes a man overnight. The comparisons are notable, but we can only hope they incorporate that toy store piano scene.
Shazam! will soar into cinemas in 2019.